Week in Review, March 6: Virus Chaos, Hollywood Deals and New Nonstops

NEW ORLEANS – The biggest international story this week remains the uncertainty about the coronavirus and the effect it’s having on economies worldwide. In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been a seesaw: up 1,293 Monday, down 786 Tuesday, up 1,173 Wednesday, down 967 Thursday and down 256 Friday.

Meanwhile, the President signed a bill authorizing $8.5 billion to fund efforts to combat the spread of the disease amid criticism that his administration’s response has been late and underwhelming. 

In New Orleans, where visitors contribute $9 billion annually to the local economy, city leaders are preaching preparation over panic. Organizers of at least two meetings scheduled for March have cancelled their plans but local tourism boosters emphasize that there are no diagnosed cases of the virus in the Big Easy and no reason not to come. Gov. John Bel Edwards weighed in on the topic as well. …

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In more positive news, two glamorous Louisiana deals were announced this week: the visual effects company Crafty Apes, which has worked on “Stranger Things,” “Jumanji” and other major projects, is opening an office in Baton Rouge that will create between six and 20 jobs paying six figures. And film transportation equipment company Base Craft announced the acquisition of Hollywood Trucks, the Louisiana-based company that started with a handful of vehicles in 2007 and has grown into a fleet of hundreds.

Also good news: city leaders promised that the retail and restaurants in the fancy new MSY terminal would generate more income and make it cheaper for airlines to fly in and out and so far it appears to be working. The latest carrier to announce new nonstops to New Orleans is Spirit Airlines, which is adding two international destinations: Cancun, Mexico and San Pedra Sula, Honduras. (New Orleans is home to the largest Honduran population in the U.S.)

And notes from Baton Rouge: Gov. Edwards is hearing it from both sides about adjustments to the state’s industrial tax break; critics are asking questions about proposed pay raises for Edwards’ staff, cabinet secretaries and other political appointees; and the state is borrowing $350 for construction projects while also trying to collect more than $500 million in outstanding debts. 

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Oh, and there’s a presidential campaign going on as well. The Democratic field has narrowed to two white men in their 70s.

Considering all the chaos, it’s no wonder the National Restaurant Association predicts that booze in one form or another will be a major driver of profits for the industry this year.

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